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Government’s Small Business Commissioner to visit North East to help address £2.5billion late payment challenge

The Government’s Small Business Commissioner will visit the North East in September as part of a crack-down on late payment to small firms.

The Commissioner, Paul Uppal, will take part in a Q&A event with small businesses at the STEM Centre in Middlesbrough on 4th September, to highlight how he is addressing the issue of late payment, which collectively costs smaller enterprises £2.5 billion a year.

The office of the Small Business Commissioner was launched in December 2017 to ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s 5.7 million small businesses, support them in resolving their payment disputes with larger companies and bring about a change in payment practices between businesses and across sectors.

It was created in response to the poor payments crisis facing UK small business and coincided with regulations that came into force requiring large businesses to report the average time they take to pay their suppliers.

According to official figures, a third of payments to small businesses are late with the average value of each payment at £6,142. This has led to 20 percent of small businesses running into cash flow problems due to late payments.

At the event the Commissioner will advise North East small businesses on how he is tackling late payment practices to ensure supply chain resilience through timely payments, the measures he has introduced and how his office supports small firms in dispute over outstanding invoices.

Mr Uppal will also discuss the outlook for UK small businesses and the most up to date information about the country’s economic prospects.

The free event, which is sponsored by Tier One Capital, has been organised by the online business networking group the North East of England Business Network and the Tees Valley Business Club.

A limited number of free tickets are available for the event at Middlesbrough College’s STEM Centre, which takes place between 12pm and 1.30pm on 4th September. To secure a place visit EventBrite through this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meet-the-commissioner-tickets-47717410058

Paul Uppal, Small Business Commissioner, said: “The North East and Tees Valley regions are home to a vibrant cluster of small businesses and I am looking forward to hearing their inspiring stories and the challenges they are facing to drive forward their enterprises. Through my role I aim to give small businesses they support they deserve, in particular to ensure fair payment practices, which are essential in helping them to thrive.”

Graham Robb, Senior Partner at Recognition PR and owner of the North East of England Business Network, said: “The Small Business Commissioner has a vital role to support smaller enterprises, which are essential to the UK economy, and we are pleased he is coming to the North East to meet some of the area’s entrepreneurial firms.

“Smaller businesses, those that have a turnover less than £6.5m and fewer than 50 employees, are the lifeblood of the UK economy. However, late payments put their health at serious risk, and in turn the livelihoods of entrepreneurs and their employees. The role of the commissioner will go some way to addressing the late payment crisis and I encourage North East small businesses to come and meet him and find out more.”

Jane Reynolds from Tees Valley Business Club said: “Small businesses account for more than 99 percent of all private sector companies, yet they are the ones at most risk from the poor practices of large organisations. Having the support of the Commissioner is a significant benefit to small firms in their mission to get paid for the quality products and services they provide.”